bigstock Gene Editing 97978937In a study published July 26th in the journal Nucleic Acids Research, a group of Yale University Medical School researchers have developed a system to edit specific genes in a genome, multiple genes at a time, all while minimizing risks to other systems within the genome. According to the published research, “The gene-editing “toolbox” provides a user-friendly solution that scientists can apply to research on cancer and other disciplines.”  

Previously, editing genes in a genome could damage other systems within the genome, but this new approach sought to minimize that risk, while allowing a user to edit multiple genes simultaneously.

UCONNHEALTHThe University of Connecticut Healthcare Center announced an end to primary pediatric clinical services as of October 1 of this year. Services of the practice included newborn, well care, immunizations and basic well office visits and physicals through adolescence.

The State is potentially investigating whether the facility improperly skipped the “Certificate of Need” process in making a change to available medical services. Because the pediatric team will provide services at its other locations, it claims it did not need to file a certificate of need for this change. 

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Stamford Hospital Carl & Dorothy Bennett Cancer Center has become the first institution in Connecticut to join the Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Care Collaborative, based in Boston, Massachusetts. The move will allow Stamford medical professionals to consult with experts in the Boston facility for complex cases and access to research initiatives originating within the network. 

The Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, known for cancer research breakthroughs and The Jimmy Fund Clinic focusing on pediatric oncology care, was established in 1947 for the treatment and research of cancer in adults and children. 

Stamford Health is a not-for-profit healthcare system in lower Fairfield County and is also affiliated with the New York-Presbyterian Healthcare System and serves as a teaching affiliate for Columbia University.stamford

zikaThe federal government has begun to provide states with assistance related to zika virus prevention and monitoring. On the heels of the first local transmission cases in Miami Florida, Connecticut announced it has accepted roughly $1million in funding to monitor birth defects and utilize preventive measures against the virus, known to cause microcephaly and birth defects in babies born to mothers who contract the virus while pregnant. 

According to the CDC, the funding has been rerouted from other previously existing health accounts. As yet, Congress has not passed any legislation or authorized any emergency funding to combat the zika situation. 

Governor’s “Merger Moratorium” Disregarded As Purchase Is Approved

71 Haynes St MANCHESTER MEMORIAL HOSPITAL

Manchester and Rockville Hospitals are being sold to for-profit Prospect Medical Holdings, they’re the  predominant assets of the non-profit Eastern Connecticut Health Network.

HARTFORD: Connecticut regulators have given the go ahead to the outright sale of Manchester, Rockville Hospitals, both non-profit community hospitals, to Prospect Medical Holdings of Los Angeles, CA for $105 million. Manchester and Rockville are the predominant assets of the not-for- profit Eastern Connecticut Hospital Network [ECHN].

Prospect currently owns thirteen hospitals in California, Texas and in Rhode Island.

Prospect and the not-for profit Waterbury Hospital have also agreed to a merger and that application is currently under review as well by the Office of Health Care Access.

cadeuces obamacare2As Obamacare Move Forward Double Digit Increases Proposed For Individual Plans

By Mark Pazniokas, CTmirror.com

Some of Connecticut’s major health insurers are seeking rate increases far beyond medical inflation, including an average increase of 26.8 percent for the individual plans offered by the state’s biggest insurer, Anthem Health Plans, according to filings made public Monday.

Insurance Commissioner Katharine Wade has scheduled public hearings in August on the rate increases sought by Anthem, Aetna and ConnectiCare, three of the 14 insurers seeking increases on 18 individual and small employer plans providing coverage to 332,126 people in the state.

Insurance Commissioner Katharine L. Wade.

The filings come as the insurance industry, Wade and her department are under intense scrutiny as health insurers are undergoing a period of controversial consolidation, with Anthem seeking a merger with Bloomfield-based Cigna and Hartford-based Aetna seeking a merger with Humana.

Connecticut drew fire from consumer advocates when it recently joined 13 other states in signing off on the Aetna-Humana deal. Matthew Katz, chief executive of the Connecticut State Medical Society, recently predicted that if the two proposed mergers are approved by state regulators and the Justice Department, about 64 percent of the Connecticut health insurance market would be controlled by one company, Anthem-Cigna.

The requested increases ranged from a low of 2.1 percent sought by Oxford Health to 32 percent sought by Golden Rule, both for plans offered outside Access Health CT, the state-sponsored exchange created under the Affordable Care Act.

A public comment period on all the increases began Monday and will remain open for 30 days or until the filing is closed, which generally takes longer. The rate increases are for individual and small-group policies offered to employers with 50 or fewer workers. More residents get coverage through larger employer plans, which are not part of this review process.

The department has the authority to reject or modify rates, based on its review of the filings.

The proposed increases are far higher than the 9.6 percent impact of medical cost inflation and increased demand for those services, a factor known in the industry as “trend.”

One reason cited by the insurers is the discontinuation of a federal reinsurance program that provided money to insurers from 2014 to 2016 to offset costs from the early years of the Affordable Care Act. The assumption was an influx of the newly insured would yield high-costs claims from individuals who had long gone without care.

A Connecticut Insurance Department analysis says other key drivers are the rising costs of drugs, as well as what the department calls “experience adjustment.” As the ACA, also known as Obamacare, enters its fourth full year of coverage, the previously uninsured are more familiar with care systems and are seeking more services.

Once the rates are set, the actual increases paid by specific consumers will vary. Each customer’s actual rate is based on three factors: age, as older people pay more; geography, with consumers in Fairfield County typically paying the most; and the specific plan the person picks.

Many consumers also get discounts on their premiums, subsidized by the federal government as part of the health law. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services says 85 percent of consumers getting coverage through an ACA exchange receive tax credits that protect consumers from premium increases. Tax credits increase if the cost of the second lowest-cost plan, the silver level, goes up.

Jonathan Gold, a spokesman for HHS, said rate increases on individual plans also are mitigated by the ability of consumers to shop around through the marketplaces created by the ACA. Last year, about 40 percent of returning customers to HealthCare.gov, the federal exchange, switched plans and saved an average of $42 per month, he said.

“For consumers faced with these increases, it’s important they understand all their options and shop for the best plan for themselves and their families,” said Nora Duncan, the state director of AARP. “The cheapest plan may not always be the best, but a plan that has seen a sharp increase in cost with no discernible added benefit to you, may not be either.”

All the filings can be viewed online. Public hearings will be held at 9 a.m. on August 3 on Anthem’s filing and August 4 on ConnectiCare and Aetna at the Connecticut Insurance Department, 153 Market St., Hartford.

Plans offered through the state-run exchange, Access Health CT.

Article courtesy of ctmirror.com

 MERIDEN — MidState Medical Center’s Advanced Wound Care & Hyperbaric Medicine team has earned the 2014 Excellence in the Workplace Award from the Connecticut Nurses’ Association (CNA). The award recognizes a workplace that empowers nurses to create an environment that promotes professional autonomy and control over nursing practice.

“In giving this award, the Connecticut Nurses’ Association recognizes the contributions this team has made to integrate evidenced-based best practices, lifelong learning, and patient-centered care,” said Kimberly Sandor, MSN, RN, FNP, CAN’s executive director.

To foster lifelong learning and deliver the highest quality of care to their patients, 100 percent of the team’s full- and part-time nursing staff is certified by a national board in wound care or hyperbaric medicine.

The team’s healing rates, the most significant quality measure in their specialty, are greater than 92 percent. Patient satisfaction scores always average higher than 94 percent. Both are consistently above national averages.

The Excellence in the Workplace Award will be presented at the CNA’s annual awards reception October 21 at the Crowne Plaza in Cromwell.

 NEW HAVEN — Yale-New Haven Hospital (YNHH) is advancing the treatment of patients with peripheral vascular disease (PVD). Earlier this month Carlos Mena, MD, director of vascular medicine for the YNHH Heart and Vascular Center, deployed the first drug-coated angioplasty balloon catheter into a patient with PVD. The FDA-approved drug-coated balloon (DCB) is used to re-open arteries in the thigh (superficial femoral arteries) and knee (popliteal arteries) when narrowed or blocked as a result of PVD.

Drug coated balloon for treatment of peripheral vascular disease is a new technology that until now was used for coronary artery stenosis. The main use of this technology is in patients with diabetic foot who otherwise would have amputation of the limb. During this procedure the doctor inserts the paclitaxel eluting balloon to dilate the artery, no matter if it is a new or recurrent stenosis. This technology significantly reduces the rate of recurrent stenosis and is more effective over time, compared to the results of standard angioplasty with or without a stent.

A narrowing of arteries in the arm or leg, PVD affects about eight million Americans. The risk increases with age, and for people with high blood pressure, high cholesterol or diabetes. The threat is even greater for smokers. People with PAD are four to five times more likely to suffer a heart attack or stroke. It can also lead to gangrene and amputation.